Governor Names Don Kirkegaard As Secretary Of Education

November 6, 2017

PIERRE, S.D. – Gov. Dennis Daugaard announced today that he will appoint Don Kirkegaard of Sturgis to serve as South Dakota Secretary of Education.

Kirkegaard, 59, is currently the superintendent of the Meade County School District. He also serves as president of the South Dakota Board of Education Standards.  He will resign both positions to become secretary.

“Don Kirkegaard is a leader in education in South Dakota, and I thank him for taking on this role,” said Governor Daugaard. “With his years as a school administrator, and his service on the State Board of Education Standards, he will be an able leader for the state department.”

Kirkegaard has been superintendent in Meade County since 2011. Prior to that, Kirkegaard was a social studies teacher and principal in Bristol, and then a principal and superintendent in Britton. He earned his bachelor’s degree from South Dakota State University, his master’s degree from Northern State University, and his specialist’s degree from the University of South Dakota. Kirkegaard is a native of Trent and a graduate of Flandreau High School.

Don Kirkegaard of Sturgis to serve as South Dakota Secretary of Education.

“I am excited about the opportunity to serve as the South Dakota Secretary of Education. I have more than 30 years in K-12 education and I will try to use my practitioner perspective as South Dakota continues to move education forward,” said Kirkegaard. “My goal will be to work with the Department so that we can continue to offer a wide variety of opportunities for all students in South Dakota.”

Kirkegaard has been a member of the State Board of Education Standards since 2006, and currently serves as its chair. The board sets standards and requirements for school accreditation and for teacher preparation and certification, and content standards for elementary and secondary schools.

He is also a member of the executive board of the School Administrators of South Dakota.

Kirkegaard and his wife, Lois, have two grown children.

Kirkegaard will begin on Jan. 1, 2018. He succeeds Dr. Melody Schopp, who is retiring effective Dec. 15, 2017. Mary Stadick Smith, the department’s deputy secretary, will serve as acting secretary during the interim.

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